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First Flash Experiment

Played with flash for the first time today, here's what I came up with:

Spring Cleaning and Balcony Garden Setup 2008


Balcony mess
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

More spring cleaning! Here's what the eyesore of a view on my balcony has been for the last oh, couple of months. Yuck. I did something about it yesterday, and started my garden too!


How NOT to balcony garden
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

I have this funky neighbor. He's kind of weird, he's got a life sized cut out of mel gibson braveheart style in his living room, and he has a bunch of funky lights strung out around his balcony and outside his front porch area downstairs. I think he sells plants at a farmer's market or SOMETHING, but either way, I got a decent photo of his not-so-attractive gardening methods. I figured I'd post them as an idea of how NOT to set up my balcony garden!

So I got the whole balcony cleaned off, all the dead leaves and pine needles and old dead plants thrown away, and got the whole thing swept thoroughly. I moved mark's tools and my bike against the wall, and pushed the bins and all the pottery into the other corner on that same side. I put the new window box planters up, and organized my gardening supplies.


Lava Rocks for drainage
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

So one thing I've started doing in all my containers is adding a layer of something along the bottom to allow for extra drainage. I usually use large gravel or some other kind of small rocks, but here's what I realized when I was trying to clean out my pots from last year: rocks in pots are heavy! Ugh!

Here's my solution: Lava rocks! Mainly used in hydroponics, these are a great size, are very lightweight, provide great drainage, and are also porous, adding a little more usable room for water to be stored. This is great for me, since I tend to have a little bit of a problem keeping my herbs hydrated come the warmer months. I just pour a thin layer across the bottom, and continue with my container potting mix from there.

Here's the first of the herbs. On the left are the garlic chives that I saved from last year's window boxes (I wonder what kind of flavor they still have) and greek oregano. There's still room for when I sprout the rest of the herbs over the next few weeks.


Salsa, here we come!
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

There's no shortage of tomato plants at my house right now.

On the very left in the taupe pot, there are 5 beefsteak tomato plants. The first small green pot to your left has another large variety red tomato, and the second small green pot has a yellow pear tomato plant. The large green pot has 3 more beefsteaks, and the far right in the purple ceramic pot is a cute little jalapeño.

My mom said she planted an onion that sprouted the other day. Once my cilantro gets going, we'll just need a lemon and we'll have some great salsa!

Dining Room Decor


Dressed for company
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Dinner anyone? Here's some of my favorite table settings from the homes of my family, friends, and my husband and me.

Faux Stained Glass Window Cling Tutorial

Create faux stained glass window clings to add interest to a boring view or otherwise decorate windows or mirrors.

Materials:
Faux lead shapes in Ivy Leaves
Faux stained glass paint in various foliage colors
Overhead projector film or a sheet protector cut into 2 plastic films
Toothpicks
Paper Towels

Prep your plastic film. You can use overhead projector film, which is pretty sturdy as well, or if you're like me and have lots of school or office supplies on hand you can slice the fused edges off a sheet protector, leaving 2 pieces of plastic film.

Place your plastic on a flat working surface, preferably one that can be left undisturbed for 8 to 12 hours.

Dust the plastic film with the paper towel, removing any lint or dust.


Faux lead, ivy shapes
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Peel individual leaves from the original plastic. Place onto plastic film, leaving enough space between leaves to comfortably work, but fitting as many on one sheet as you can.

Arrange all your foliage pant colors close at hand.

Lay down a second thick line of paint inside the first. Don't worry if there are a few small gaps between the lines, these areas can be corrected in the final step.

Continue placing thick lines of paint until satisfied with the amount of colors. Finally, fill in the center gap.

Using a toothpick and elongated scalloped motions, comb through the paint colors toward the center. If the toothpick becomes too loaded with paint, or between leaves, wipe clean on paper towel.

Allow paint to dry for 8 to 12 hours undisturbed. If you need to move your clings, move them by sliding them onto and from a hard surface.

Once the paint is completely dry, peel the cling from the plastic and apply to a clean section of glass. Admire your artwork and your improved view!

Wet Felted 3D Resist Bag Tutorial


Wet Felted 3D Resist Bag
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

This wet-felted wool bag is made by working over a 3d foam resist. We'll be creating this form ourselves from a simple foam chair pad that you can get from most sewing and craft stores. I used 3 colors of wool roving, but you can use as little or as few colors as you would like.

Materials:

Wool roving in 3 colors (or your choice)
Flat, wide bucket for working
Bamboo beach mat
Containers for hot and ice water
Dish detergent or soap flakes, but not laundry detergent
Sponge
Hand massager or agitator of some kind
1 inch thick foam seat cushion
Plastic Bag
Scissors
Tape


Cutting Foam Resist
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

To create my pattern, I folded a scrap piece of paper in half and cut off the top corners, creating a pleasing shape. Keep in mind that your final product will be approximately 35 to 40 percent smaller due to fibers shrinking into place.

Place pattern on top of a 1 inch thick foam chair cushion and cut around edges with sharp craft scissors.


Shaping Foam Resist
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Cutting along the edges of the bottom corners of the foam resist, shape softer edges along the bottom. I like to round my sharp corners off first, then go back and shave a little off the middle as well. Thinner slices of foam will end up with a smoother result.


Wrapping Foam Resist
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Foam is squishy, which is perfect for what we're using it for in this application. However, it's also porous, and that means that felted wool tends to try and attach itself to foam. For this reason, we'll be wrapping our resist in plastic.

Cut the handles and bottom off a plastic bag. Slice the tube you're left with so that you have one long rectangle of plastic. Begin wrapping your foam, neatly and taut, but leaving just a little room to manipulate the foam inside the bag.

Tape up the edges of the bag. The tape usually ends up coming off by the end of the project, so remember to check inside your bag for wet tape at the end. For the beginning shaping, however, it's necessary to hold the shape of the wrapped bag.


First Layer of Wool
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

I like to do my bags multi-layered. This gives me a few opportunities for beautiful and unique blends in color, and also stretches my supply of colored roving much, much further.

When I can, I pick up a large bag (usually 8 oz) of merino in natural white or grey. I really like the fact that there's less processing of the fibers since there's no color, which tends to make these purchases quite a bit less expensive than for colored merino. I start my base with these natural tones, choosing a color that works well with my overall scheme.

Today I chose natural white in the hopes that as the fibers felted, a little of the white would show through. Also, this would create a pretty contrasting internal color as well. It would also show up nicely on the inside of the handles.

When laying down roving, spread the fibers thin and evenly. Lay fibers down horizontally first, overlapping edge fibers by a few inches. Lay down your next layer of white vertically, paying attention to wrapping your ends around the edges.

Place your main bag color horizontally over the middle and bottom portions of the bag. Lay fibers evenly, but spread the edges out gradually to minimize the result of heavy lines in the final bag.


Covering Edges of Bag
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Once both sides of the bag have the main color across the center, it's time to work in the edges. Pulling short sections from the roving, lay each handful smoothly across the edges, perpendicular to each place as you go around. Smooth the ends of the fiber along either side of the bag.

Pulling small amounts of fiber from your accent roving color, spread small amounts of wool along the top edges of the bag. Alternate with your main color and your direction occasionally, making the blend more soft and gradual.


Prep Your Felting Station
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Lots of people have different ways of setting up for wet felting. Outside is great because you don't have to worry about getting everything wet. I know of people who felt in the bath tub, especially for larger projects. I personally like to set up on a stack of 4 or so towels with an old broken desktop laying across them. This gives me a flat surface with some cushion below, gives me a water barrier, and makes it so I can sit on the floor, where I do a good deal of my crafting. I do a lot of the preliminary work in the big green bucket until I start rolling in the mat.


Soaping the Bag Fibers
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

GENTLY lift your bag into the bucket. Using a soapy wet sponge and a rolling motion, moisten the wool fibers, being careful not to pull up layers or agitate the fibers too much at this phase. Carefully turn and repeat on the other side, then on the edges.

The beginning of this process is done rather slowly with little pressure. You don't want the fibers to separate and clump on themselves, so make sure you keep spreading everything out smooth every so often.

I use a hand-massager (It was something that came with a bottle of firming lotion and was designed to "break up celulite". Hah.) to do the majority of my agitation so my fingers aren't completely raw by the end of my day of felting, but you can also lightly massage the fibers with your fingers and palms and light pressure if you don't have something like this. A meat mallet tends to work pretty well, too.

Alternate sponging on hot and cold water, occasionally dumping waste water in the bucket so the project isn't flooded. Keep soapiness at a light amount, but make sure there are always suds.


Ready for Next Step
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

The fibers are beginning to interlock. The layers are merging. There's still individual definition of fibers, but they're starting to meld.

This means it's time for the next step. You don't want to over-felt at this stage or you don't end up with a smooth enough or even enough surface.


Rolling Bag in Mat
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Begin by placing an edge of the bag near the end of the mat. Fold the end of the mat over the edge of the bag, and begin rolling tightly, as if you're making a big felt-and-bamboo cinnamon roll. Mmm, cinnamon rolls. Anyway, back to the bag...


Putting Pressure on Mat
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Once you have the mat rolled up, press and roll the entire bag. Pressure is great in this stage, it's the friction that creates a smooth and even felting process. Continue to roll bag in mat, alternating hot and cold water applications. Occasionally you can mop up the soap suds and excess water with your sponge and squeeze it into the bucket.

Continue this process, flipping bag and turning all edges into end of roll. This means you'll be rolling from 8 different directions: front of bag up and back of bag up from both sides, and the top and bottom edges.

Your bag is nearing completion when the foam resist form inside is beginning to be crunched and distorted by the felt. Felt shrinks quite a bit, and it'll seem like your form is trying to curl up in the bag when you're ready to cut.


Cut Bag and Remove Form
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Cut the bag along the top seam with scissors. Remove the foam resist form and the plastic bag, remembering to check for any loose tape.

Here you can see the bag laying on top of the original form. See the size difference? The bag has become smaller and dense.

At this point, it's time to create your handles. From scratch paper, create a handle pattern that pleases your eye and works with the shape of the bag. Keep in mind that the handles will be stretched and rolled, so will appear longer and thinner than they are in the photo.


Cutting Handle
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Fold handle pattern back in half, and fold one side of bag in half similarly. Cut along edges of pattern, then cut through the center to create the hole for the handles. Repeat on other side.

This is your final shaping opportunity for your bag. Pull and stretch the handles to elongate. Roll between your palms to curl inward on themselves.

Roll top edges of bag out to expose internal color. Form with your fingers and allow to dry that way.

Press a flat base into your bag so it can mostly stand on its own.

Set bag aside to dry, which will take 1 to 2 days, depending on your climate. Decorate bag as desired, or use plain!

Wet Felted Beads Tutorial


Wet Felted Beads Tutorial
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

These are great little accents to so many projects! Basic, fun, can be made in any color, or a combination of a few! Great project for involving kids in fiber work, too. Also a fantastic beginner project to get you used to working with felt.


Wet Felted Bead Supplies
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Materials:

Wool roving in a few different colors
3 containers: 1 for hot water,1 for ice water, 1 for soapy water and squeeze-off
Dish detergent or soap flakes in water
Sponge
Towels and a water-safe working area

Arrange all supplies neatly within reach for ease of working. I use an old dismantled desk shelf on top of 2 towels, folded in half and stacked. I have friends who wet felt in the bathtub, over the sink, or outside as well. Indoors works fine for me, you just do your best to not get your carpet soaking wet. :)

Grasp the top of the roving firmly between the palm of your hand and your fingers, and pull a short length of fibers from the rest. Layer these fibers in your other hand, alternating colors if you'd like a marbled effect.


Soaping the fibers
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Using the sponge, dampen the fibers with soapy water. Press lightly, then roll the sponge off the fibers. This ensures you won't pull the top layer of wool off the rest with the sponge.

Squeeze the fibers together lightly, distributing soapy water. Begin to roll into a loose ball, using light pressure and cupped palms. This part of the process goes a little slower, but that ensures a smoother bead at the end.


Submersing in Hot Water
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Lower the loose ball of fibers gently into the hot water, making sure the ball is completely saturated. Remove from water, allow excess to run off, and squeeze remaining water into the soap container.


Continue Forming Bead
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Roll the bead between your hands, using slightly more pressure and a slightly-cupped palm positioning in your hands. Pay attention to the shape of the bead, watching for roundness or separation of fibers. Gradually add more pressure every so often.


Submersing in Cold Water
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Drop the bead in the ice water, making sure the bead is fully saturated. Remove from water, and squeeze excess out into soap container. Apply more soapy water if the bead is starting to lose its suds, being careful not to over-soap. If this happens, rinse some of the soap out with the cold water and squeeze back into soap container.


Fine-tuning Bead Shape
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Repeat hot-and-cold water processes until bead becomes dense and smooth. On last few cycles, do not add any soap. Rinse the bead in cold water, and finish fine-tuning the shape of the bead by rolling between your palm and fingers.


Place in Container
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Set finished but damp bead into a separate container, and continue process to make more beads. I usually make at least a dozen of each color scheme. I like to do this because there's such variation in each bead, even though I'm using the same colors!

When completely finished, set container in a well-ventilated area. Try to keep space between the beads for better air flow. Let beads dry completely, 1 to 2 days depending on your climate.

The final product can be used as a button for a purse, felted or otherwise; they can be strung and worn alone as a beautiful necklace, or can be embellished with beads or embroidery to make an even fancier statement. There's lots of possibilities for these little guys, and they're so fun you'll find yourself looking for any excuse to make them!

Mod 70s Style Hexagon Fuse Bead Coasters Tutorial


Materials:

Plastic Fuse Beads
Hexagon Shaped Pegboard
A Couple Containers for Sorting
Iron
Parchment Paper
Hot Glue Gun and Glue
Scratch Paper
Pencil
Coordinating Craft Felt
Scissors


Fuse Bead Placement
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Pour some beads into the smaller container to more easily sort for colors.

Decide on a color scheme, choosing 5 colors.

Starting at the center, place rows of color in the following order:
Row 1: Color A
Row 2: Color B
Row 3: Color C
Row 4: Color A
Row 5: Color D
Row 6: Color E
Row 7: Color B
Row 8: Color A


DSC_0057
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Here's a tip that I found works well for me when I am sorting colors.

When you exhaust the supply of the colors you are using, pour the remaining beads from the smaller container into the bigger container.

This allows you to pour more from the source container without diluting down your color selection further, and makes it so you can work with less to dig around in.


DSC_0073
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Carefully move the pegboard onto parchment paper. Usually a package of fuse beads will come with a square, but you can also use parchment paper from a roll. I have some around for polymer clay and crafting, so this is just another excuse for me to keep it on hand.

Heat iron to medium temperature, and apply medium pressure while moving iron constantly. Heat for 15 to 20 seconds until all beads are evenly melted.


DSC_0097
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Carefully peel up one side of parchment paper, allowing coaster to stick to ironed side. Remove pegboard.

Place opposite side up and iron next side.


DSC_0083
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Here's what a properly ironed coaster will look like: slightly melted and flattened on both sides, but not distorted. You should see the definition of the individual beads on the sides and have still-round circles.


Cut Pattern for Felt
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Lay a coaster on a scrap piece of paper and trace around it with a pencil. Cut straight, just inside the lines.

Place pattern on top of a piece of felt and cut around the edges. Cut one for each coaster.


DSC_0154
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Apply hot glue between rows of beads, trying to keep glue out of the holes.


DSC_0156
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Quickly place felt hexagon on top of glue, center, and press down lightly but evenly. Let cool facing up.


Megtini
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

When I decided to make coasters, Mark decided to make drinks :)

Recipe:
1 part pomegranate schnapps
2 parts Kettle One vodka
3 parts cranberry juice

Shake with ice and pour into a martini glass.

The New Shelf Organizer


DSC_0017
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

This thing is amazing to me.

A few weeks ago, I was eyeing this shelf organizer at Michaels. Partially because my ribbon, paint, and stamp bins were not fitting nicely into my shelves anymore, and they were all about to overflow anyway. Especially the ribbon. I'm a sucker for adorable ribbon. Only problem was, it was about 80 bucks. That's a little pricey for a shelf set for me, no matter how cool it is. So I passed on it.

Anyway, last week we went shopping with our friends Craig, Jeff, and Frances. Frances is a fellow crafty lady (she scrapbooks) and had a 40% off coupon that she wasn't planning on using. Score. We made a trip to Michaels, and i got this guy for closer to 50 bucks, after taxes.

I tried to install this guy twice and miserably failed. I pulled the screws out of the wall both times. Turns out, I had measured slightly off, and my husband got it on the wall on his first try.

I still have space for another full row of ribbon, which is good because I have less than I normally do right now, and there's still some I haven't put up as well. All my acrylic paint is up looking pretty, and I have 3 more jars and cubbies to fill with bits and bobs of some kind or another. I'm excited.

Reorganizing the Bead Storage


DSC_0075
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

So Diz likes to help. Today she's helping me sort my bead storage, which has become quite the mess. My current storage situation consists of everything you see here, plus a few more of those separated containers you see in the front, all stuffed into a clear plastic shoe box.

Lots of little baggies. That's how they sell everything to you, in little mini baggies. I'll just be saving them for other uses now, because they just don't make for tidy bead storage, no matter what you do.

I just hate situations where you have to dump out the entire container to find the one type of bead or finding you're looking for. So, no more of that business.


DSC_0012
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

I get a little neurotic about stuff like this though. I like colors to be in order. I like sizes to be in order. I like things to be separated by material, too. Sometimes, it gets a bit wearing. Especially when things are a mess. Really, it comes down of ease of working for me. If things are a mess, I spend more time fussing with materials than creating pretty things.

That's what makes this type of organizational system so nice for me. A few different sizes, so I can cater to bead and finding types and sizes. Each lid opens individually so I can dump out a container at a time to work with. None of them are absolutely huge, and if I need to bring them anywhere they fit nicely in plastic shoe boxes.

I also separated all my wire and other stringing materials into the box at the right... maybe if I'm only digging through the wire when I need it, as opposed to when I dig through everything, it won't become undone or tangled so often.

All this provides a nice clean look in my office too, which makes finding things and keeping them tidy so much easier.

Cheesy Seafood Rice Casserole

I liked this one, it was yummy and we made it with all things we had around.

4 cups steamed rice
2 cups cooked shrimp, no tails
1 can white tuna, drained
2 stalks celery, cut into thin slices
1 package dry vegetable soup
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 cup water
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

(Continue for Directions)

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